Informed by Houston’s Black History, Harrison Guy’s New Work Takes the Stage

Informed by Houston’s Black History, Harrison Guy’s New Work Takes the Stage

Harrison Guy

For Harrison Guy, founder and artistic director of Urban Souls Dance Company (USDC), history, especially the history of African Americans in Houston, is a major source of creative and personal inspiration.


On Nov. 12 and 13 at Jones Hall, Guy brings this inspiration to the stage in a new work titled Colored Carnegie, performed by USDC at Jones Hall.

Colored Carnegie tells the story of The Houston Colored Carnegie Library, the city's first library for its Black community. Built in the Fourth Ward with a $15,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie, the library opened in 1913, a time in American history when every southern state had implemented Jim Crow laws to discriminate against Black people.

The project was a significant moment for segregated Houston, when both black and white people, including librarian and activist Julia Ideson, collaborated to construct a safe, physical space for reading, education and community-building. "I am a person that thrives on community," says Guy, "so the communal aspects of the story really resonated with me."

Guy initially imagined Colored Carnegie as a play or an opera, two mediums in which words tell the story alongside theatrical staging and music. Although the challenges of creating a new ensemble work in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic gave him pause, Guy decided to go with his primary language – dance. "I was up for the challenge of allowing the body to carry the weight of the story," says Guy. "In the end, we have created a dance that speaks."

Houston-based composer John L. Cornelius, II created the music for Colored Carnegie, music Guy describes as evoking both the period-specific sounds of a segregated United States and our current moment in time. "The drum serves as the heartbeat throughout the work," Guy explains, "and gives us a central place to call home."

Colored Carnegie is one of six premieres commissioned for 2021 by the Society for the Performing Arts Houston Commissioning Project. In addition to Colored Carnegie, this weekend's Commissioning Project program includes a performance by the Sufi music ensemble Riyaaz Qawwali and a new one-act play by poet Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton.

Art + Entertainment
Duos, Trios and Teams: ‘Next-Generation’ Mother-Daughter Leppert Duo Debuts

Clare Leppert and Clementine, the Cavachon. Leigh Leppert and Benny, the Bernedoodle.

HOW DID YOU come together as a team? This fall, we are celebrating the introduction of an exciting real estate collaboration between Clare Leppert, longtime Houston Realtor®, and daughter Leigh Leppert. Clare shared a 20+ year real estate partnership with her mother, Bette Carpenter, until Bette’s death in 2016. Having worked solo for several years, Clare in 2021 was awarded Houston Business Journal’s No. 2 Luxury Realtor® in Houston. Leigh, who has been working in marketing for the past decade, has always shared a passion for real estate and watched Clare successfully balance family and career. We are excited to re-create the next generation of a mother-daughter duo at Compass!

Keep ReadingShow less

Wiley's 'Judith and Holofernes'

THE ENERGY IN the foyer of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Caroline Wiess Law Building is quite lively, thanks to the installation of two provocative paintings, painted 400 years apart — one by Artemisia Gentileschi, an Italian 17th-century female artist, the other by Kehinde Wiley, a contemporary, Nigerian-born queer Black artist. Each depicts the grisly climax in the Old Testament Book of Judith, in which the widow Judith decapitates the Assyrian general Holofernes, thus saving her besieged Jewish city of Betulia.

Keep ReadingShow less
Art + Entertainment

LoveShackFancy

READY TO SPEND some Christmas cash and gift cards, or eager to get Rodeo-ready?! Houston boutiques are boot-scooting up for 2023 with new collections, pop-ups and more.

Keep ReadingShow less
Style